There are many details to consider when someone dies, and it can be a painful, exhausting and stressful time. It is very helpful to know ahead of time what the dying person would like to have done, so planning ahead is strongly recommended.
If the deceased had a lawyer or an executor, contact this person to see if they have been given instructions for planning the funeral. If no wishes have been left and there is no executor, the closest relative has the responsibility of making funeral arrangements. A list of legal order of priority of relatives is on page 5 of the Last Wishes Society information below.
As well as family and friends, hospice volunteers are available for emotional support and to help with practical matters. You may also wish to contact your spiritual or religious advisor.
In the New Denver area, funerals over the last decades have mainly been provided by funeral companies from Nakusp, Nelson, Castlegar or Trail. These commercial groups continue to provide service to our area, and are listed below.
However, British Columbia is the only Canadian province which allows private funerals. In New Denver, the Carpenter Creek Last Wishes Society provides details on how this may be done, see below. Private funerals mean that after someone dies, the body remains in our community instead of removal to an impersonal business. Taking care of the body is helpful for the grieving process. Also, costs are kept to a minimum.
Which ever form of funeral you choose, there is extensive paper work to be done, some required immediately after the death occurs. The Bureau of Vital Statistics requires the following information immediately:
Click here for the Vital Statistics Form required at time of death.
Commercial Funeral Providers
Thomson Funeral Services and Crematorium
613 Ward Street, Nelson 250 352 3613
Personal Alternative Funeral Services
1398 McQuarrie Street, Trail 250 368 8080
Castlegar Funeral Chapel 250 352 3220
Valley Funeral Home
1203 Front Street, Nelson 250 352 0036
101 Nelson Avenue, Nakusp 250 265 4316
When you meet with the Funeral Director discuss fully and frankly all options and details of the funeral arrangements, including cost. You may find it helpful to have someone with you to assist with the details. You will be asked to make decisions regarding:
- burial or cremation
- place and site of burial, grave marker
- type of casket or urn
- selection of clergy or facilitator for the service
- time, place and type of service. This may range from a formal traditional funeral, a memorial service or a simple gathering at someone’s home. If the deceased did not leave instructions, you will be deciding how to mark this event. You may need a few days to decide and to await the arrival of family/friends.
- embalming (this is seldom required)
- viewing of the body (this can be important for many people, in particular if the death was sudden)
- clothing for the deceased
- pall bearers (avoid designating people with heart or back difficulties, instead make them honorary pall bearers)
- flowers or donations (if you prefer to have memorial donations sent to an organization, include this request in the obituary). You may wish for the flowers to be distributed after the service
- obituary notice. This may be written by a family member or friend, or as a service of the Funeral Provider
Details to Consider
- Coordinate date of funeral with travel plans of relatives and friends who are coming for the service
- Notify relatives, friends, employer and colleagues of the death and the date and time of the funeral
- Make arrangements to have someone answer the door and telephone and keep a record of calls, cards and flowers. Prepare a list of persons to receive acknowledgments
- Have someone coordinate the supply of food for the days ahead
Arrange child care if needed and hospitality for visitors. Consider special needs of pets
- Dispose of medications—they may be returned to the pharmacy or given to the physician
- Ensure your home is looked after on the day of the funeral. Some burglars use obituary notices to learn when a home is unattended
- Arrange for a reception after the service, if desired
A Funeral Celebrant
A Funeral Celebrant officiates at funeral services for families who are not attached to a church or who do not wish to have a traditional religious service. The Celebrant will hold a meeting for the immediate family to share special memories from the life of the deceased. Out of that gathering, the Funeral Celebrant will design a service–in consultation with the family–that best reflects and memorializes the life of the loved one. That service may include a eulogy, readings, music, a video tribute, and ceremonies such as candle lighting, or placing flowers at the graveside. The job of a Funeral Celebrant is to help create a ceremony that is a personalized reflection of the life of the deceased.
Sources of Assistance
The expense of a funeral should never be a burden on those left to grieve. The B.C. Government and some other agencies have programs to ensure people are provided with reasonable and dignified funeral/memorial services. Each organization has its own policies, procedures, and maximums. Contact them in advance of the funeral and be aware that if you arrange the funeral yourself and sign the contract with a funeral provider, you may be responsible for all costs.
Assistance may be available from:
- Canada Pension Plan has a death benefit available to any person who has been covered by the plan for three or more years since 1966. The amount varies per individual and on receiving the application takes about 8 weeks to process. You will need the deceased’s Social Insurance Number. Phone 1-800-277-9914.
- The Public Trustee will arrange the funeral services if no family or friends are willing and able to accept responsibility. Contact this office through Enquiry B.C. at 1-800-663-7867.
- Veterans’ Affairs Canada & the Last Post Fund ensure that those who have served in the Canadian Armed Forces during times of war are provided with a dignified funeral. For information phone 1-800-663-1931.
- The Ministry of Human Resources provides those on income assistance and those without financial resources with funeral costs, including a casket and either burial or cremation. A grave marker is not provided. For information call 1-866-866-0800.
- Check all life and casualty insurance and death benefits including Old Age Pensions or Social Security, insurance policies including car insurance and home owners mortgage insurance, extended care plans, Trade or Credit Union Plans and Income Protection.
Click here for a Funeral Preplanning Form
The TIME of DEATH
When death is expected:
- Check to see if any preplanning of last wishes has been done.
2. Initiate arrangements to fulfill the dying person’s requests, for example, coffin building.
3. Make a list of who to call when death occurs. This may include:
- DO NOT CALL 911
- There is no rush to do anything, and no legal requirement to move the body immediately.
- Make the phone calls listed above.
- The person will have to be officially ‘pronounced’ deceased by a medical attendant.
- To assist the grieving process, review how the death occurred and encouragearticulation of events.
- An important step in the grieving process is spending time with the body.
- Allow expression of feelings.
- Remember to explain what is happening to children.
- Make sure that any remaining medication is safely put away until it can be disposed of. *
- Physician, Home Care Nurse, other medical attendant
- Family member or friend with planned phone tree
- Spiritual advisor if desired
- Funeral Provider or Last Wishes Society
- Hospice, 358 – 7298, or 358 – 7828.
When expected death occurs:
*It can be given to the medical attendant or to any pharmacy for safe disposal.
In case of UNEXPECTED death:
CALL 911. This will bring the ambulance and the police who may initiate CPR.
The Coroner is notified in all cases of unexpected death.
In most cases of sudden death or unexpected death the Coroner’s Office will require an autopsy. If this is the case, it may mean a delay between the time of death and the release of the body. Also, the family or the physician may request an autopsy even if one is not required. In these cases, the next-of-kin will be asked to give written permission. The deceased can still be viewed prior to or at a funeral service following an autopsy. In the case of sudden death, you may be questioned by the police as part of their investigation. If crime is involved, you may be asked to appear in court as a witness. You may feel frightened and confused. Help is available through police-based Victims Services by calling 354-3919 (Nelson City Police) 250-354-5196 (in office only Wednesday and Thursday – other days call Nelson Victim Assistance 250-354-3919)